The job most in demand in Silicon Valley lately is not in social networking or marketing, but something slightly less trendy. Major technology firms are on the hunt for economists. Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon.com and eBay are all currently recruiting economists, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Those companies are following the likes of Google and Microsoft, which in recent years have added big-name academics to their staffs, including Hal Varian from University of California, Berkeley and Susan Athey from Harvard University, respectively.
Economists have proven adept at helping tech firms tweak everything from search methods to online advertising platforms—intricate systems that can be manipulated to produce better results, or studied to predict outcomes from different strategies. Tech firms also tend to be creating entirely new businesses, and sometimes the best person to help explain how traditional markets will react to them is a good old-fashioned economist.